In an attempt to stop firearm owners being shot by the police, the Arizona driver’s manual added a new section on traffic stop safety.
The manual instructs armed motorists on what to do and what not do to when pulled over by a police officer. State Rep. Reginald Bolding, a Laveen Democrat, who is black and helped write the new section of the manual, mentioned the importance of these updates.
According to Bolding, the new guidelines are designed to keep drivers from being shot at the hands of police officers. He also noted that most of the victims of police traffic stop shootings were either black or Hispanic.
“When you look at what’s taken place across the country, you have seen a majority of individuals who are people of color that have had higher incidence of interactions with law-enforcement officers, particularly in shootings,” he said. “Hopefully we can get to a place where that’s not the reality.”
Last year, Philando Castile a 32-year old African-American man, was stopped by a Minnesota police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, for a broken taillight. Just as Castile was reaching for his wallet, the Yanez opened fire, claiming he thought Castile was reaching for his gun. He shot Castile seven times in front of his fiancée and her 4-year-old daughter, who were in the car with him.
Castile died; Yanez was suspended after this harrowing incident.
A 2011 Bureau of Justice Statistics study found that police stopped a higher percentage of black drivers — even though black men make up about 6 percent of the total population.
So, in order to stop people of color from being compromised, Bolding reached out to eight different police departments, inquiring what motorists should do to avoid becoming victims. “I got eight different recommendations,” he said.
The responses were inconsistent.
“Some people said you immediately reach into your glove department to grab your license and registration,” Bolding said. “Others said to turn on the dome light. Others said to wait.”
He brought together the Arizona departments of transportation and public safety to come up with good — and consistent — advice for drivers when they are pulled over by police.
“I recognize this won’t solve all officer-involved shootings,” he said. “I do hope that this could potentially save a life by giving a recommendation of what to do.”
The new piece of advice in the Arizona driver’s manual says if an individual is carrying a weapon or if there are any weapons in the vehicle, drivers should immediately inform the officer about it.
Other than that, all motorists are advised to park the vehicle and stay in it while keeping their seat belts fastened.
Motorists are required to keep their hands on the steering visibly and wait for the officers to approach their vehicle. They should lower their windows, especially if they are tinted.
The new manual also instructs motorists on what to avoid when pulled over.
One of them is not to reach out inside the vehicle to get hold of anything. “If you need to reach for an item, contact the officer verbally to indicate the item you need to locate and only do so after the officer has given verbal confirmation,” the manual now says.
“We consider these an outreach to assist drivers in understanding what can happen in a traffic stop,” he said Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves, whose agency was involved in crafting the final provisions of Arizona's driver’s manual.
The gun laws in the state of Arizona are less restrictive than other states; according to Bolding, any adult can carry a weapon, open or concealed in Arizona. “There has not been a lot of education on what individuals should do if they are carrying a gun,” he said.
“We are a state that talks about the Second Amendment rights and we want individuals to have the ability to carry guns. But with that we also wanted to make sure that they’re protected and they’re not put in harm’s way.”
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Rick Wilking